Three weeks ago we were visited by a hedgehog, who pottered around the woodpile next to the barbecue, late one night. It was after dark and long after bedtime.
We don't see them often in the garden and Emma, who has never seen one, was sorry to have missed it. At her age every day is full of 'first times' but the appetite is never sated.
Now 30 Days Wild is here so what better occasion to go out in the hope of seeing some nocturnal wildlife and how better to introduce my daughter to wild camping?
We set off around 18:45, dodging the buzzing dragon flies.
Once 'we' had got over the "stinky cow parsley", the debilitating nettle stings and the immeasurable distance we had to travel to reach our camp spot, I explained to Emma that these sorts of battles against the odds are the very essence of adventure and would make the experience all the more satisfying.
With the tent pitched we sat on a gate next to the river. The greylag geese and their young were grazing in the cool of the evening. All of a sudden they straightened their necks and herded their goslings onto the water. Then, for a good fifteen minutes we watched a fox track back and forth, following the scent, whilst the geese slowly drifted towards our river bank.
We had a cup of tea. The blanket of cloud gave way to the sun again. We played a couple of games of Uno, read a story and had a snack. Four days from the equinox, getting an excited five year old to sleep outdoors was never going to be an easy proposition.
Once I got her up to watch a muntjack nosing around the corner of our field. Minutes later she was up again needing a wee. It wasn't until I lay down beside her at 9:45 that her yawns turned to sleep. It's certainly not a microadventure for a school night!
In the late evening, and after the sun had disappeared, the horizon appeared daubed untidily by a giant fluorescent pink marker. I sat and watched darkness descend.
The morning gave us the opportunity to see a riot of damsel flies and butterflies on the brambles, and the occasional glimpse of a reed warbler, as we ambled back the mile and a half to our pick up point.
Yes, we were nearly there all along.